Tomorrow I leave for Europe. "City Island" will screen at Deauville on September 11th. (Later in September we'll screen in a festival in Rio and in October at the festival in Ghent, Belgium). Andy Garcia is, along with Harrison Ford, this years Major American star at the festival--there's a tribute to him, a dinner, screenings of his other movies all of which finally climaxes with a screening of "City Island". I'm deeply thrilled by all of it--Deauville has always been my favorite film festival.
My first experience with the high-flying international film festival circuit came when my first feature, "Cafe Society", was selected to be part of the Cannes Film Festival's "Director's Fortnight" in 1995. I had turned thirty, made my first film and gotten into Cannes. Whoopee. A goal/mission/dream accomplished. Alas, Cannes wasn't quite the lovefest of art, music an la friggin' vie that I'd always hoped it would be. Loud, crowded, filled with loathsome business types and impossible to navigate politics, my film had its screenings, got a mixed review from Todd McCarthy in Variety and quickly was shuffled out of contention for any major awards, sales or even good old fashioned notoriety. We were, in short, like most films at most festivals; simply one of the many that aren't one of the ones that "breaks out". Oh well. Boo hoo. Waaa. Pass the gin and vicodin. Did they even make vicodin then? Is that even how you spell "Vicodin"? (You'd think I'd have figured out how to spell something I use so much...like "coffee" or "MacBook"...)
Anyway, a few months later we were invited to Deauville with the film and I was delighted to find myself in the midst of precisely the experience I had thought Cannes was going to be and wasn't. The festival was chic, well-organized and attended by a mix of cinema loyalists, show-biz headliners and locals curious to get a glimpse of whoever that years special attraction was. I went with Peter Gallagher who starred in the film--and he brought his golf clubs and played quite a bit of golf with Patrick Stewart. Kevin Spacey was there with his movie "Swimming With Sharks". So, I seem to remember, was DeNiro--in fact there was a speial honorary dinner for him that we went to before winding up in a noisy club chatting it up with Valerie Kaprisky. (Hm. What ever happenend to her--she was in the Richard Gere remake of "Breathless" and was a charming, very
bright lady as I recall...)
A few years later, my film "Two Family House" was invited back and that time I had the rather extraordinary experience of partying down with Bob Altman, Barry Levinson, Julie Taymor and Neil Jordan at the Mayor of Deauville's house. The "special guests" at the festival that year were the uneasy combination of Robert Altman and Dino DeLaurentis--two men who famously disliked each other, De Laurentis having fired Altman from "Ragtime" many years earlier. De Laurentis didn't show up at the Mayor's house for the dinner--I wondered if he was avoiding Altman. Finally, somebody who didn't understand the history between the two men innocently asked Altman if he'd be going to "the DeLaurentis Party later". Altman gave them a withering glare and answered, "No thanks--I've already been to the De Laurentis party."
Later that night we all wound up in a hotel lobby, drinking more..stuff. Gradually I became aware of the fact that the lovely woman I was sitting next to was Anouk Aimee, international iconic star of, among others, "A Man And A Woman". She was alone and as the party disbanded I realized that she was staying by herself down the beach at the other big hotel. Anouk had that certain look/style/carriage of someone who is used to be accompanied places--indeed she looked somewhat startled to suddenly not being surrounded by the others. We'd exchanged only a few words through the evening but I decided to gallantly offer to walk her back to her hotel. She was pleased and accepted. On the way down the beach, she said to me --a rueful laughter in her tone--"You know, thirty years ago the men would have been falling all over each other for this opportunity". What could I say? To disagree would be an insult to her celebrity and to agree would be to tacitly acknowledge that the parade had in fact passed her by. I settled for a ruminative nod and made a mental note to self: how frigging lucky was I to be strolling down a French beach one evening with a woman once considered one of the most desirable in the world?